Being Asian, walking the streets of a quaint little backwater Australian town that idolizes shiny steel balls and a nightlife that consists of getting drunk in a variety of faux-European settings, has always been an apprehensive experience.
It is hard to put into words what this experience is like, let alone describe it to those who inexplicably enjoy their nightly traipses along the same exact road, visiting the same exact shops, ordering the same exact decaf soy latte. Objectively, there isn’t that much to complain about. Whatever ethnic group one belongs to, it is easy to have a fun night out, quickly forget about the dozen homeless they’ve passed by, and return home at 7am reasonably satisfied.
That is, until one leaves this bubbled sanctuary and walks the streets of Shanghai, where it is not scantily-clad white girls that roam the streets half-pissed, but hot Asian women. It is difficult, then, to pretend that anyone, no matter how socially lubricated, can belong equally to both places.
Anecdotal evidence suggests it is not easy being a western foreigner in an Asian country. Predatory street-vendors, unnaturally courteous metro assistants, indelible salespersons with unironed shirts and lit cigarettes next to no-smoking signs in a basement store that sells cotton bedding, rude policemen – they flock to non-Asians like empty-skulled 20-something kid-adults flock to memes, trying to legally take your money.
Those confident myths about the ubiquitousness of English is widely overblown; no one speaks English, and even if they do, most will not speak it to you outside a professional setting. And why would they? Come to the country, speak the language – that is what Australians have always maintained. No need to look so confused when they speak Chinese to you in excruciating, childish slowness, oozing condescension – this is what you would’ve done the other way around.
Wherever one goes, any non-Asian skin color is basically a label that reads ‘I’M RICH’ directly above ‘RESPECT ME DAMMIT’, drawing to it all the scammy deals and courteous disrespect one can expect. This labelling has nothing to do with how long one has lived here or how well one can speak the language – it has only to do with skin color.
In casual 2-minute interactions – going to the bank, eating out, getting drunk at a bar, premature ejaculation – who you are, what you are, and what rights and respects are afforded to you are determined according to skin color the moment two people meet.
Again, anecdotal evidence – but then again, no one cares about scientific evidence and opinions are facts.
None of this applies when one is Asian, however. The locals immediately and unconditionally accepts Asians no matter how they dress (four times in a week, women unironically dressed in maid costumes – not for any professional purpose but just casually – have been spotted. Did not take pictures).
It matters not when these camouflaged foreigners can’t speak Chinese, or always get lost the moron-friendly zero-barrier subway system. They rarely get accosted by the various locals, and even if they do, their lack of basic language skill is never met with derision. Somehow, they are spoken to with normal-speed, non-condescending Chinese even though they have the same chance of understanding it as a deaf kookaburra.
This is because these Asian foreigners have already been judged as ‘one of us’, despite them being no less foreign than everyone else. The basis is, of course, appearance alone. Without knowing anything about them, they have been accepted by the locals because they look the same.
Of course, when one is a rational human being with satisfactory intelligence, this sort of judgment rarely applies beyond first-impressions. It’s hard to hold onto one’s prejudice – one way or another – when the Asian guy you thought was a local can’t even use chopsticks and listens to a vaguely homoerotic band called One Direction, whereas the black guy you thought was from Zimbabwe has actually lived here for ten years and speaks fluent Chinese.
But most don’t get past first impressions. People don’t have the time nor the desire to get to know you; most just want your money and be done with it.
Easiest impression to make – the color of one’s skin.
When an Asian guy walks down an Australian street, despite being as local as anyone could get without losing one’s cultural identity, one cannot escape the sense of constantly being judged from a distance, and whatever caricature that impression would form in the observer’s mind, it will not be ‘one of us’.
Which is cool. After all – as we’ve established – this happens the other way around as well.
Even when people, after forming such misconstrued first impressions, are unwilling to close that distance and properly assess the individual for who they are, it is still cool – they just might not give enough shits to get to know you.
Real social ramifications arise when there is time, and there is a structural need to get to know these ‘different’ people, to close that distance, yet due to fear and anxiety of admitting one’s own mistaken prejudices and/or the simple shyness of approaching a stranger, one does not.
Thus, the prejudices remain forever, cementing into caricatures – the defining of an individual with a few easily perceived visual or auditory traits – which then leads, unceremoniously, to racism.
(to be continued, cos 800 words is stretching it for avid readers of the 21st century)
Sometimes, when everyone around you is enjoying themselves, you somehow feel miserable.
Snippets of conversation drift past your fake-attentive ears – “oh this band is great, but have you heard of that band?” – and as you smile back at your friend/colleague/family member, nodding amicably, you wonder what expressions they’d have if you snatched that burrito from their greasy hand and shoved it down their throat, beans and week-old onion bits flying everywhere.
“Shut the fuck up, just stop talking shut the fuck up”, you imagine yourself saying…which is bizarre, because you are not a moody teenager anymore, you are a grown-ass adult, and you are having a silent tantrum when everyone else is having fun.
The answer is obvious – obvious but complicated, so let’s us an obfuscated and barely relevant metaphor to make it easier to understand:
In your head, there is a constant tug-of-war.
On one side, the side with all the buff dudes and sexy ladies, is a craving to be the center of the universe. “Adore me! Shower me with praises! Give me your undivided attention!” – sings the bright-winged angel sitting on your left shoulder, strumming that dainty little harpsichord.
On the other side, the side of bone-thin zombies posing as people, is an all-consuming shame. “I can’t do shit. Don’t look at me I’m ugly. Stop counting on me I have no idea what I’m doing.” – whispers the immolated demon dangling on your right shoulder, charred skin peeling from its crooked face.
How you feel at any moment depends on which side is winning. For some people, one of these sides is naturally stronger than the other; for others, the two sides go at it with such zealous enthusiasm that the ropes swings back and forth three times a minute.
Being on the angel’s side naturally makes you happy. “Oh boy! They’re all paying attention to me, asking how my day was!” “Oh man I am so important, look at my achievements and my pile of money!” – These are universal feel-good moments.
It is easy to be happy when this side is winning.
Thing is, there is a tug-of-war going on, and this euphoria – while it may last for days, weeks, years even – will eventually fade away. Don’t worry, it’ll come back, but in the meantime you are left some pretty insidious thoughts: how trivial your accomplishments are; how lonely you are, surrounded by hollow friends with whom you only discuss the trending shows on Netflix and nothing else; and how stupid you are, to not have realized how stupid you were all this time…
Can you feel happy when this side is winning?
Yes. Yes you can. Just follow these simple steps:
First, recognize that no one is going to win this tug-of-war, and that it is totally normal to find yourself on the currently losing side.
Second, be cool with it. Laugh. Recognize that your misfortunes are absurd, that the little worker ant minding his own business can sometimes be stepped on by an elephant, and that there really is nothing you can do about it.
Misfortune becomes funny when you are cool with it, because it is utterly absurd how detrimental one bad decision could be.
Misery comes to those who would throw a tantrum at being on the losing side, even if it’s just for a day or two. “Why isn’t my life as perfect as that guy’s?! Why don’t people like me even when I try so hard?! Why can’t I just get lucky and win at life?!” – When you throw these kind of tantrums, you become miserable – because this tug-of-war isn’t something you can influence with determination or perseverance. It just happens.
To be happy is to shrug. It is to shrug at who you are, at the shit that befalls you, at the elephant’s foot that comes down once in a while, and to laugh at them.
It is also fine not to be the center of the universe, once in a while.
This blog contains no content.
That is not to say that there is nothing to write about, or that some circumstance in my life has caused me to stop writing.
Indeed, this shitty low-effort but ultra-high-quality 1080p blog is just a brain vomit at the end of another day in a plebian life, and sometimes, while there are always, always, interesting things happening in even the most downtrodden of days, it is simply better to throw up in the buffet instead of the obscure corners of the internet.
That is not to say I threw up today. As a matter of fact, today was productive and fun.
Indeed, this fully sick 420 no-strings-attached blog isn’t even among the first thousand words I wrote today, but you know what they say about people that do things sometimes: if you do things, make sure to keep doing it so that other people know you are doing this thing.
That is not to say this blog is supposed to make any sense. In fact, if you are reading this you probably need a better hobby, like watching Youtube or chronic masturbation.
Indeed, this euphoria-enduring Samuel L. Jackson-esque awesome blog isn’t here to entertain you. It is to entertain me, the writer. But, if you so happen to enjoy the farting of other people’s brains, that is good. It also helps that I crave the attention and affection of strangers on the internet.
That is not to say I live a life without affection. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I can feel feelings.
Indeed, feelings are what this Roman-empire-in-100AD-level powerful blog is supposed to induce in you. You and me both. Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s cringy as fuck, maybe you think I need to make an appointment with a mental health professional – whatever it is, feel free to feel feelings.
That is not to say I am unaware of the fact that this blog has followed a curious cyclic structure.
Indeed, no one starts their sentences with “indeed” nowadays, especially not in a Ridley-Scott-directing-the-original-Alien-but-not-the-shitty-modern-sequels-with-the-biblical-undertones-level fantastic blog like this.
Why did I first spend 4USD on Steam to buy the Wallpaper Tool, then search for all available animated wallpapers related to Fate Zero in the Steam Workshop, then – after downloading a dozen different samples and being generally dissatisfied – come to the realisation that they are just edited video clips, then start learning Adobe Premiere from scratch just so I can edit my own video clips of Saber in my favourite anime moment of all time and use it as my personal animated background?
Because I am a hardcore weeb.